Senate approves bill to allow child care as election expense


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin to allow candidates for office to use campaign funds for child care while they are participating in campaign or officeholder activities.

The bill (2020-S 2273aa) was inspired by the 2018 Federal Elections Commission decision concerning New York congressional candidate Liuba Grechen Shirley that determined that childcare expenses that result from running for office are an allowable campaign expense. Rhode Island law currently allows campaign funds to be used to purchase gifts of nominal value, meal expenses, communication access expenses, and travel.

“Rhode Island is better served when our elected officials truly reflect the people they represent, and that includes parents of young children. Child care expenses are a roadblock that excludes people from running for local or state office and participating in the political process,” said Senator Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), whose own children are now teenagers who do not require child care. “You shouldn’t have to be wealthy to run for office.”

The bill, which also passed the Senate last year, is cosponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket), Sen. Bridget G. Valverde (D-Dist. 35, North Kingstown, East Greenwich, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) and Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

The Rhode Island Board of Elections has also proposed changing its regulations to specifically include child care as an allowable campaign expense, even if this bill does not achieve full passage by the General Assembly. On Jan. 21, the Board of Elections heard public comment from Senator Goldin, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Smithfield Council President Suzy Alba, and the RI American Civil Liberties Union, in support of the board’s proposed rule change that would ensure child care expenses are allowable use of campaign funds. Senator Goldin also hand-delivered a letter of support for the board’s proposed rules change signed by over 200 Rhode Islanders.

The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) is sponsoring companion legislation (2020-H 7548).



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